What is an SSL Certificate and How Does it Work? SSL certificates create an encrypted connection and establish trust. One of the most important components of online business is creating a trusted environment where potential customers feel confident in making purchases. SSL certificates create a foundation of trust trust by establishing a secure connection and browsers give visual cues, such as a lock icon or a green bar, to help visitors know when their connection is secure. SSL certificates have a key pair: a public and a private key. These keys work together to establish an encrypted connection. The certificate also contains what is called the “subject,” which is the identity of the certificate/website owner.